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Frances M. Yang, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Department of Occupational Therapy Education

Professional Background

An associate professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy Education, Frances M. Yang, Ph.D., teaches courses in the entry-level clinical doctorate program including OTDE 715 Occupational Therapy Scholarship, OTDE 716 Occupational Therapy Scholarship, OTDE 795 Research Discovery for Occupational Therapy, and OTDE 845 Research Implementation and Dissemination in Occupational Therapy. She also is instructor for OTD 835 Quantitative Research for Applied Science in the post-professional program and serves as a research mentor for dissertation students in the therapeutic science doctoral program.

With graduate training in aging research and latent variable modeling, Yang has interests in longitudinal patient-centered health outcomes. Her background includes training in psychometrics, psychiatric epidemiology, and public health. With internationally recognized expertise in measurement methodology, she is currently chair of the Psychometrics Special Interest Group of the International Society for the Quality of Life Research.

Academic Background

Prior to her arrival to KU, Yang was on faculty at Harvard Medical School as well as the Department of Population Health Sciences at Augusta University, Augusta, Ga. She received advanced training in psychometrics and epidemiology from Harvard Medical School after completing her doctorate in gerontology at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. 

At Augusta University’s Medical College of Georgia, Yang was curriculum director of both evidence-based medicine and geriatrics where she taught 600 medical and 300 public and allied health sciences students each year. She was principal investigator of two Patient Centered Outcomes Research awards from the Georgia Board of Regents to examine quality of life in patients living with end-stage renal disease and diabetes.

Yang’s past collaborations include work with the Augusta University Sickle Cell Center to examine quality of life for patients with sickle cell disease, especially with regards to measuring the prescription patterns of physicians for opioids and other pain medication. And in partnership with the Georgia Cancer Center, she examined the epidemiology of cancer disparities in the U.S. population, specifically for oral cancer and breast cancer, using the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program data.

Research Focus

Yang is passionate about using item response theory to examine the properties of patient-reported outcomes for quality of life in older adults, which includes cognitive and mental health. She is co-author of “Measurement and the Measurement of Change” (2015) and currently has more than 50 peer-reviewed publications.

Among her many honors, Yang received the prestigious National Research Service Award, the National Institutes of Health Translational T32 post-doctoral research fellowship from Harvard Medical School, and a Harvard Medical School Livingston Fellowship. The National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression recognized her with its Young Investigator Award to examine the effect of cardiovascular diseases and risk factors on how older patients report their depressive symptomatology.

Yang received the Emerging Investigator Award from the Center for Advancing Longitudinal Drug Abuse Research through the National Institute of Drug Abuse. As principal investigator, she used latent variable modeling, specifically item response theory, to develop a measure of recovery from substance abuse that follows the protocol of the NIH Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System.

She was also principal investigator on grants studying conditions and patients with Alzheimer’s disease, dementias, and renal disease.

In collaboration with Harvard Medical School, Yang recently completed work as the subcontract principal investigator on a National Institutes of Health Research Project Grant Program (R01) titled “Neuroimaging and Neuropsychological Biomarkers of Vascular Risk Factors”.

Last modified: Oct 15, 2019

portrait of Frances M. Yang


Frances M. Yang, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

P: 913-945-7335
F: 913-588-4568

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